Norma Garcia, 67, knows firsthand about the Cuban American Bar Association Pro Bono Project.
“My house was in foreclosure and was listed for sale,” said Garcia. “We were already losing the house and we didn’t have the financial means to afford an attorney. My husband and I contacted the CABA Pro Bono Project for help, and it was there where we found the support from lawyers to be able to save our home.”
The CABA Pro Bono Project, started about 30 years ago by Junior Garrido, helped close more than 500 pro bono cases in 2012, the same year Yara Lorenzo and Isabel Diaz, co-chairs for the CABA Pro Bono Project, created the first annual “Lawyers on the Run” 5K walk/run. The race raised about $30,000 for the project.
“We needed to do something to help fund pro bono cases after the state cut our funding,” Lorenzo said. “The walk helps make up for some of the cuts and is also a good way to raise awareness on the issue.”
This year “Lawyers on the Run” will take place at 7 a.m. Saturday at Tropical Park in Miami.
More than 30 South Florida law firms and 20 teams, about 400 runners in all, participated last year.
This year’s goal: 500 runners and $40,000 raised.
“This is a great event that raises money to help provide free legal services to local indigent communities,” said Olivia Rodriguez, 26, and CABA Pro Bono Project member. “It is the perfect opportunity to give back and have a great time among other professionals.”
The average cost for pro bono cases range from $750 to $1,000 per case. This covers anything from legal advice to court appearances.
“My father went through a bad situation last year where someone took a reverse mortgage on my father without me and my brother’s say-so,” said Jorge Alar, 40. “That’s why we came to CABA Pro Bono and they’ve helped us fill out the proper paperwork and get my father back on his feet.”
Although the Pro Bono Project has dealt mainly with family law, foreclosure and immigration, the organization is looking to expand into veterans and elderly issues.
“Had it not been for the CABA Pro Bono Project, we would have lost our home,” said Garcia. “They helped us get back on track, and it’s changed our lives. We’re so much happier now.”